Talent-show rivals end X Factor spat with deal to split the proceeds

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The Independent Online

It was billed as Simon vs Simon: the media trial of the year and a scrap between two music industry behemoths.

But Simon Fuller, the former manager of the Spice Girls and creator of Pop Idol, and Simon Cowell, the creator of The X Factor, have avoided a £100m High Court battle over the shows, opting instead to sign a new deal together.

Fuller's company, 19TV, was suing FremantleMedia, Cowell and his production companies, Simco and Syco, for breach of copyright in the action.

The dispute centred on Fuller's claim that ITV's The X Factor, which is produced by and stars Cowell, was copied from Fuller's Pop Idol, a claim that Cowell said was "utterly ridiculous".

Neither was present at the High Court last Wednesday when their lawyers met and the case was adjourned.

What complicated this wrangle was that Fuller's American Idol, a spin-off fromPop Idol and the most successful American reality television format ever, also starred Cowell.

American Idol was in the process of renegotiating a new series deal with Rupert Murdoch's Fox network and if Cowell had decided not to participate in American Idol, the American network would have considered Cowell's The X Factor as a possible replacement.

Fox brought the warring parties back together and in a statement released yesterday on the New York Stock Exchange announced that American Idol would run for at least four more series, with the option to run for six. Cowell is signed up as American Idol's caustic judge for at least five series.

As part of the settlement, Fuller will take a share of The X Factor, while Cowell will receive a greater share of American Idol.

CKX, which owns 19 Entertainment, of which Fuller is chief executive, has also announced that 19 and FremantleMedia will receive a "significantly increased" licence fee - said to be more than $30m (£17.5m) a series - from Fox.

"We're delighted with the news of the agreement," said Fuller's spokesman yesterday as representatives from both camps tried to build bridges.

"Simon Fuller and Simon Cowell have worked together and respect each other. Simon Fuller as the creator of Idol and Simon Cowell as the star of American Idol have created what we think is the most valuable TV brand in the world. It's fantastic news for all parties that this partnership is set to continue."

Cowell added: "I am happy that we have been able to sort out our differences and find an amicable solution to our problems.

"This means we can go forward and concentrate on working together for the next five years on developing other successful projects.

"Simon and I have shown just how well we work together in recent years. We have remained friends throughout this dispute and I think that it was this friendship that allowed us to settle our differences."

Neither would disclose a settlement figure but Broadcast, the website for the television and radio industry, said Fuller would win a 20 per cent share in The X Factor while Cowell would claim between 30 and 40 per cent of American Idol.

Cowell's majority stake in The X Factor is certain to continue, and he also now has one of the biggest stakes in American Idol. Cowell's fee for American Idol, already at around $15m a series, is also expected to rise.

One senior music executive said yesterday: "It has come out 75/25 in favour of Cowell. He is the star. He had all the aces."

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